(Proper (2002) PVCD104)
2 CDs, 44 tracks, 126 minutes.
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: November 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
If there's a downside to the relaxed UK copyright laws and the number of blues reissues hitting the compact disc market, it's the amount of duplication between US and UK releases. A fine case in point would be this recent two-disc import in the Proper catalog and its similarly-titled US counterpart, Rollin' Stone/The Golden Anniversary Collection from MCA/Chess issued in 2000. The Proper set offers 44 tracks, compared to the 50 songs present on the MCA/Chess version with the major difference being that the Proper double is minus two alternate takes of All Night Long, an alternate version of Rollin' Stone, and a handful of other exclusions, perhaps a bit less vexing. On the plus side, the Proper set is a low-cost offering that includes a fine 16-page booklet written by Joop Visser and a nice selection of vintage pictures whereas the MCA/Chess double has less-informative notes and fewer photos. Full discographies accompany each set, and for the most part, sound on the Proper release is generally quite listenable, except for the annoying echo present on Sittin' Here And Drinkin' (Whiskey Blues), while the MCA/Chess version is crystal clear without the perplexing effect. Playing time is sufficient on the Proper pairing, but there is certainly more material available which could have been included without straying outside of the UK copyright laws. Aimed more at novices instead of collectors or completists, the material is superb with Muddy's slashing slide guitar, his declamatory vocals, and sidemen the likes of Sunnyland Slim, Little Johnny Jones, Otis Spann, Baby Face Leroy, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, and Leonard Chess, whose bass drum assistance on Country Boy, She Moves Me, My Fault, and Still A Fool is both ahead and behind the beat, as well as square on it occasionally. This one falls short of a top rating for a few reasons, but for the asking price, Rollin' Stone from Proper is a solid, nicely-priced introduction to Muddy Waters and his seminal Aristocrat/Chess recordings.
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